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Program aimed at building bonds with special needs students - KOAM TV 7

Joplin High program aimed at building bonds with special needs students

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It's a first for Joplin High School - a program that pairs students with those in special education.

It's an effort to foster supportive relationships that extend past the classroom.

The special education teachers at the 9-10 Joplin High campus created the "Peer Buddies" program in hopes to expose their students with special needs to new experiences and new friends.

Sophomore Anna Tillman filled out an application to be a part of the Peer Buddies program where students are paired with those in special ed.

"Building new friendships with them and learning more about their lives and them learning about mine," says Tillman.

Sophomore Rylee Hartwell hopes to be a Peer Buddy too.

"I think it's important because there is not the division that brings in-between special education classroom and a regular classroom the bond between two people - they are people just like we are - they don't deserve to be in just a room secluded, they should be out like everybody else," says Hartwell.

Forty students have applied to be a part of the program but each will have to go through an interview process to be chosen.

"We'll interview the kids that apply, look at different things they do during the school day, different characteristics that they have and pair them with our kids," says Brooke White, a special education teacher at Joplin High School.

To help build a personal relationship between the Peer Buddies the program will have different outings once a month, be it a school function or somewhere around town.

"It's an experience we felt our kids were lacking," says White.  "We want them to do what a typical high school student would do - go to games, go out into the community and go out to eat with their friends and go shopping and do all these things."

With the help of a new found friendship the teachers hope it will help the special needs students in social situations in the future.

"So many of these guys have deficits in those areas and they need help there and by interacting with their peers they are going to be able to grow better and interact more appropriately if need be," says George Cowin, also a special ed teacher at Joplin High.

Students interested in the program can get an application from Miss White at the 9-10 campus in Room 104.

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